Wednesday’s Must-Read: a hilarious apology and fascinating account of the etymology of the term ‘fashionista’, by Stephen Fried.
“Fashionista first appeared on page 100 of my 1993 book Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia. I created it because as I was writing about the fashion industry—and young model Gia Carangi’s immersion in it—there was no simple way to refer to all the people at a sitting for a magazine photo or print ad. I got tired of listing photographers, fashion editors, art directors, hairstylists, makeup artists, all their assistants, and models as the small army of people who descended on the scene. This was also the group that, according to one top fashion illustrator I interviewed, had collectively become “the famous non-famous people” at Studio 54.”
Our brief timeline:
1993: ‘Fashionista’ appears in Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia
1993, spring: NYTimes reviews the book and Fried gets ‘bitch-slapped’ by the reviewer for making up ‘corny labels’
1995, fall: An aspiring fashionista/journalist who’s finally finished reading Thing of Beauty starts using it in coverage of the fall European couture shows (Evening Standard and the Washington Post)
1999: Everyone freaks out over the word being officially added to the OED, the official definition reads as:
“a person employed in the creation or promotion of high fashion, such as a designer, photographer, model, fashion writer, etc. Also: a devotee of the fashion industry; a wearer of high-fashion clothing.”
2013: Fashionista has become ubiquitous, and appears “most recently and annoyingly in a bombardment of T.J. Maxx commercials”.
Fashionista is one of those funny cultural descriptors - much like ‘hipster’ - that suffers from the paradox of self-acknowledgement. No hipster likes to call themselves a hipster because the very act of acknowledging that you are cool makes you uncool. Like wise with fashionista - it’s a cheesy word and a sillier label - and anyone who really loves fashion knows it’s not about the labels, but about the style.
New ReFashioner pal Misty White Sidell has an awesome piece out on Fashionista today on the ten lessons she’s learned as a fashion student. Below is our favorite:
You will not find a boyfriend:
I’m going to state this really clearly so that none of you think you are exceptions to this rule: If you go to FIT, you will not find a college boyfriend. Contrary to the experiences that you might encounter at what we like to call ‘real college,’ fashion college is not for lovelorn dreamers. Beware: You are entering a convent. I’m not quite sure why they even offer free birth control at health services. But if you are truly desperate, there are only three types of men available, which I will outline below.
1. Party promoters. This is the youngest and most metrosexual kind of creeper. They will hang out around the freshman dorms at night during orientation and will try to lure you to parties. Then they will try to take your virginity. Do not oblige.
2. Dog walkers. No, not the professional kind. I’m talking about the truly unique types who buy girl-magnet small dogs to try to lure you into conversation. You can spot the really desperate ones when they ditch their teacup poodle for a three-legged amputee to hop up-and-down 27th street alongside them. Stay away.
3. Construction workers. FIT borders the new up-and-coming NoMad neighborhood (that’s North of Madison Square Park), which is full of construction sites. And when it comes to preying on society’s most weak and vulnerable, the contractors of these projects are deceptively intelligent–they’ve chosen FIT as their favorite place to sit outside for an ogle over lunch break.
Bianca of Small Girls PR can attest to the power and allure party promoters, circa 2006. But don’t worry fashion students, dating post-college can get better.